A Heart of Flesh

Testimonies – My Testimony

“For we know in part.”

I am not yet fully awake, yet I start writing this testimony of testimonies now. It may take me some time to finish it and I want to edit it minimally, so will now write only a few thoughts.

We all know a part of our friends and family. In fact, we only remember a part of our own journeys. The mind edits and only remembers parts, and of that of our friends we see things but cannot be fully sure that our testimony of them is one hundred percent true.

I have shared things on this blog and my Twitter feed about myself and others. It has been shared with sincerity and faith, hope and love. Yet who can say for sure if it is true? God knows, as the old saying goes, and that saying is true: God does know!

My own testimony is true. That of others is through knowledge and observation. My testimony is true, unless I indeed be a liar and a deceiver.

Life on a Mental Ward for a True Believer

A mental ward is like hell for a believer. On my ward there are two true believers of faith: myself and a Muslim man from Egypt. We both struggle enormously. We are both coping well, despite the intense persecution we face there.

On a mental health ward such as mine the Gospel is forbidden to be preached openly. I have shared the Gospel as I am able. I have told, gently but firmly, a homosexual that sodomy is sinful. I have been severely rebuked for that with implicit threats that this may lengthen my incarceration.

There is a man, going by the name of Paul, who deceives the patients. He shares a “gospel” based on “science” and a hypnotic methodology. So I knocked over his coffee and stubbed a cigarette out on his tweed jacket, for few see him as he truly is: a wolf in sheep’s clothing who has abandoned his wife to deceive patients and others through his recording and playback devices. He returned my acts with acts of violence, including a punch to the head. I responded by quietly walking off.

Preaching the Gospel and Fulfilling the Roles

On my mental health ward few Christians visit. There is no visit from a Christian chaplain. No apostles come – except for one of the Apostolic Succession who occasionally and graciously visits me. No prophets true come. No evangelists come. There are no true teachers and pastors.

I have attempted to fulfil all these roles whilst at the ward. I have had no other option.

I have preached the Gospel, even to a seagull for we are told in the last chapter of Mark to “preach this gospel to every creature.” I have preached the Gospel as I am able to a person held in solitary in 136 (let the mental health patients understand.) I have encouraged JH, rebuked Ragi, warned many, comforted some, helped an old lady to the door, tried to wean women off cigarettes. I have told unrepentant sinners they are not welcome near me.

I am in many respects like King Arthur according to an Irish legend: the man who burnt his cakes. Yet I am not King Arthur. I have come as a thief in the night, yet I am not Jesus. I have judged to extreme, yet I am not God.

What shall my reward be? Punishment eternal? Or life most blesséd? Only God can judge, but see this post on my rebellion against the mental health system before you yourselves make judgement upon me.

Why I am at the Mental Health Ward

I went to the ward voluntarily. I asked to be admitted. The community team sent me to the crisis team. I kept my appointments. I once waited in the hospital grounds overnight to ensure I kept an appointment. I reported to A&E. I was beaten, bruised and had my clothes torn. I was told to leave. I left.

Later I was asked politely to to accompany some police officers to a mental ward in Hastings, I went, peacefully and quietly. They would have refused to take me if there was any danger of me being placed on Section under the Mental Health Act. They did their job well. And as soon as they had left I was placed on Section 2 of the Mental Health Act and violently and forcibly injected with a strange chemical.

I feel my rebellion is justified in the sight of God. And now, as I write on overnight leave, I want to cry.

Thank you for reading. Please pray.

Time Under the Ward – Overnight Leaves

Last night I had my first overnight leave since the beginning of my third 2018 time under the ward. It has been a blessing and I am now having my second overnight leave.

Adjusting takes time, even when the “insanity” which the doctors have prescribed has not been taken by the patient.

Last night I listened to Saga by Adrian Von Ziegler – a heavy and dark album of Norse lore. It troubled me yet it enabled me to take my meal of pork and vegetables well with much thanksgiving; the first dinner I have had at home since the detention under the unjust mental health detention system in place.

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/christmas-candle-red-green-flame-1125147/

Sleep went well, one of the earliest nights I have had. I had also listened to the Carols from a recording from King’s College, Cambridge and read the evening’s Song of Degrees.

The morning brought much joy with a time of praise unto my God with an African Children’s Choir as the backing to my offering of praise.

My Return to the Ward

I was required to return to the ward, which I did. I was blessed there with a coffee with my brother JH and the lady he is courting. For the purposes of this blog I will refer to her as Jessie James. Please pray for them: they will need much prayer and hopefully I can provide support, teaching and love after discharge.

I also was blessed by a hug, kiss and cup of tea from the one I have chosen to wife in a spiritual sense without any carnal knowledge being involved.

Thanks be to God this Advent of 2018!

Quick Note on the Sisterhood

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/cat-psychiatric-tiger-pet-animal-3870976/

Last night I posted about my time on the ward and told summarised stories of some brothers of mine here. Now I want to speak on the sisters plus one son.


The son. From Arabia. Religion unknown. Cared for by Ragi, myself and the true, faithful, staff. Please pray.


My love. With sons and a daughter. Separated from husband, now committed to celibacy. I love her as my own. Sisters, please pray.


Pronounced differently. Brazilian. A good carer and protector. All, please, pray and be watchful.


(Sp?) Please pray. She says she has a son. I believe she is pregnant. She is seductive yet not physically beautiful. She smokes tobacco. All, please pray. Wolves: BEWARE!


Young. Squinted eye. Beautiful in my sight. Depressed. Has experienced violence. Sisters, please, please pray.

My Third 2018 Time Under the Ward

At this present time my mission field is the Department of Psychiatry at the hospital. I am rebelling against modern medicine and am being medicated against my will.

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/bridge-japanese-garden-arch-park-53769/

I am also a judgemental person and I am judging whether people are worthy to receive the message I bring or not. I have brothers and sisters, I have my family according to the flesh and according to love, I have friends and I have allies. I also have many enemies.

I want to tell you a little of those I still hold out hope for. I will endeavour to do so in this post over the course of this evening of writing.


JH is my main love amongst the men here who are patients. He has met with me twice in the spiritual room in which we shared a little of our spiritual journeys and I shared two Scripture passages with – first Psalm 5 and second 1 Corinthians 13.

He has rejected me since as a “loony” and a madman. I still hold out hope. Tonight I advised him to read Psalm 23.

Please pray.


A man with anger in his heart and one who gives me far more honour than I’m due. Yet a man of honour and respect. He has done me a great kindness in defending me against a false prophet who was attacking me physically.

He needs prayer, as do I, for He tries to give honour to men rather than to the Lord.


A Muslim. Please pray for him. He is an honourable, physically sick man of faith held in detention where very few understand his faith in God, the One he names as Allah.

He struggles with anger. Please pray that the Lord will have great mercy.


A young man. Fearful to approach me and one I feared to approach.

He was fearful he was beyond salvation due to his failed attempts to follow Christ in the past.

I spoke to him tonight. He confessed to God and cried for mercy. I said Amen.

Please pray especially for him, brothers and sisters.

I will attempt to tell a little of the stories of the women shortly, yet the night is not a good time for me to relate about them.

Where I am now at.

I am now an inpatient at the DOP. I have a room of my own, which was one of my vital requirements for voluntary admission. I thank God for this.

I have access to the outside world on occasion. This morning I was permitted to visit the Secret Garden and I found the hidden shrine. I made no offering to it nor to the two women who are dedicated to it. I may explain more in a future post.

Psychiatric Ward Art
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/art-therapy-therapeutic-discipline-230045/


My provisions are running low. Tobacco is now not in my possession yet supplies come as required.

Music and spiritual songs available as necessary though I am dependent on kind free gifts in order to listen.

Works done

Today I have attacked a false prophet. I had met him before and informed him he was a deceitful man. He continues in his old games.

I have met a potential new member of the household of faith. Please pray for Anna (Head) and her boyfriend.

Friends continue to be here. Allies still, at present, help.

I met one man whom I ask for much prayer for. I read to him Psalm 5. I heard his confession. As I am not of the apostolic succession I am not able to give absolution.


I have received no visitors. I am not allowed out on my own.

Unlikely that I will be able to assemble with the brethren tomorrow.

Prayer requests

Wisdom and discretion needed.

Protection and increasing faith for my friend Jo, my potential sister Anna and also for me.

Pray also for the staff here, especially for those who truly care, protect and provide what is good, necessary or convenient.

My Testimony of Pain

[I wrote this testimony of pain on my birthday, mid-July 2018. It was a raw expression of how I felt at that moment. Some historical references may not be fully accurate but were as I remembered them at that moment. I have not edited it except for correction of spelling and grammar and, where necessary, for censorship of filthy language and/or false witness.

This Testimony of Pain I share so that you, too, may know you are not alone in your deep suffering and that perhaps, one day, you may find that blesséd relief which only truly finding Jesus can bring.]

My Day of Mourning.

Today I am 45 years old. I turned 45 at around 2pm local time. It is a day everyone expects me to celebrate, to have joy and to find blessings in the fact I am a year older. I do not fear nor regret growing older. I have no fear of agedness and my fear of death is quickly diminishing. But I do not celebrate.

Why? Why, people, do you want me to be the centre of attention? Why? What have I done to you that you want me to revel in some pride in getting to be born in the first damn place? Maybe it was actually my choice to enter my Mum’s womb? Maybe I did choose to be born into that womb. Maybe the pain and heartache I caused my Mum all those years actually was my fault on every level? She wanted a normal child. But I wasn’t normal as a baby and I am far from normal now.

You send me messages of encouragement. My Nan tries to encourage me with hope in her love and the writing in the card. But all I do is mourn.

I try. I try to see you, to meet up. I try to thank you. I try to remember that you are showing me love. I try to meet for a meal or some other traditional way of rejoicing. But I mourn. Each and every card brings pain and the presents make me feel let down and then feel even more pain because I am so ungrateful. This is my day of mourning.

Curse the Day!

I could curse the day I was born. But hey! Wednesday’s Child is already the Child of Woe. Why curse the day any more? I could curse the womb that bore me. But I put my Mum through enough pain already.

Why is the greatest memory of my childhood my pride at taking a marrow to church and giving it to God? And all the while I sat there in judgement of the other kids who couldn’t be bothered and simply got their Mum to buy a tin of peas from Tesco’s? Why did everyone think I was aloof? These kids are weird, Mum! I can play. I can do that. But they don’t feel properly!

Why? Why didn’t the measles kill me? I’m told it could be fatal but all I did was have strange dreams in my sickbed for days. Why? When both my lungs had collapsed and without help I would have suffocated? Why? Why! Why did you put my lungs back up again?

Why have I hurt you so much? Why do I still do?

Why didn’t Nan’s heart pills work? Did I not take enough? Why? Why? Why did my belt break as I hung from that tree and all I ended up with was a cop car picking me up as I jumped in front of another car? Why when I took the paracetamol overdose did I go to A&E? Why?

Why? They told me that just follow Jesus and He will give you peace and joy. I am. I do not have peace and I do not have joy. Has Jesus let me down? Have I let Him down? Do I know Him at all?

Why? When I see something others do not my sister orchestrates a show down and the family falls apart? Why did my niece admire me so much that she thought mental illness might be a good way to deal with her pain?

Am I such a tramp that people really have to offer me £5 notes as I await my taxis? Do the taxi drivers really have to open their windows when I enter their car? I know. I need a bath. It’s a big thing, though, isn’t it?

This is my day of mourning.

People wonder why mental health freaks do not open up more? It is because we know the pain. We want you to experience it a bit. We will play with, manipulate you, strike fear in your hearts and load guilt trips upon you. But we will never let you know how we really feel. We can cope with this. You could not.

I am 45 years old today. I know many, and some very personally, like Lenny who I gave lip-kisses to because we thought it would be a fun thing to do in front of bigots – and, besides, I loved him. They are not here on earth now. And I have no guarantee they are in heaven. They are gone. I remain.

Thrive? B**locks. I cannot thrive. I survive. I will continue to survive. That’s my best. And if my best is not good enough for you then please, do not even +1 my posts or smile at me in the street. You can’t kid a kidder, they say in AA.

When you see the world as it is, even if only through a glass darkly, why do people think you are no longer close to Jesus? Why do they still insist that everything is better now than it was in the past? “You’ve never had it so good!” goes the advertising and propaganda slogans. Why can’t Jesus come back soon? It is my earnest prayer that He does because my pain is nothing compared to the child with his leg blown off and the bread he just bought is covered in blood. The homo who gets stabbed with a switch knife up the anus because the preacher was particularly fiery and “right on” that day? The raghead who has his apartment raided and all the writings of Mohammed and Ali are removed for future investigation? My niece’s boyfriend who is abused because he is not “British” and we have voted to leave the EU? The dead millions killed by the CIA and MI6 operations? The people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who have extra bits in their bodies? The Jews who think the perfect response to the Holocaust is to abuse Palestinian kids and call Mary a whore in the graffiti on church walls? You know what my American and British friends? If you call this the least violent and least suffering age on earth I would suggest that you widen your reading material. Seriously.

This is my day of mourning. I mourn. For me. For others. For you. But I will survive. And as for me, I will serve the Lord.


(The shared song is important. As a Christian-influenced band the lyrics are perhaps best heard as a conversation between the protagonist and Jesus.)

My Immortal – Evanescence
(From the album Fallen. The CD sleeve contained the words from the songwriter: “Thank you Jesus. All that I have left is yours.”)


Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:8

What is the purpose of sharing all these testimonies with you? Perhaps in the beginning I wanted to show off, to be someone great. Certainly I thought myself called to great things, even perhaps one of the final two witnesses. But what does Jesus say to me: to love.

I have suffered many years of mental illness. Was I possessed by demons? I do not know for sure for I am no expert on these matters and am a brute of a man with little wisdom. Was my mental illness my fault? I do not know. Things happened in my childhood which I do not want to speak openly about but have had a lasting impact. I am healed of those hurts but the scars remain.

I have been thinking even as I have been preparing these posts of doing another blog sharing “my great knowledge; my great wisdom.” But whatever the future holds for me I do know this: that I must go to my own and tell them of the great things the Lord has done for me. That is why I am choosing to share these testimonies. And I am sharing them here, on a blog for those with mental illness like me.

Were my dreams and visions real? Or were they some sort of fantasy? I do not know, but I do know the effect they are having on me and I am so thankful to my Lord for them.

I shall, if the grace of God permits, continue in the faith, continue at church and continue to tell of what the Lord has done for me. If He wills I share share some things I have learnt, but I cannot say if I will do that just yet. For now I would encourage you, whatever your diagnosis, be it depression, anxiety, a psychosis or BPD or PD or any other. Whatever sins you may have committed, whether your illness is your fault or someone else’s or a combination of the two, know that Jesus loves you and died for you. Yes! And is even risen again and is seated at the right hand of the father.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

1 Corinthians 13:13

Sunday Thought – 1st Advent Day 2018

In these present times, at least in the monetarily richer nation states, there is a huge range of potential routes to take in order to explore the possibilities of healing. In this article I want to explore some of those different routes.

Obviously I come at this from my own perspective, so it is perhaps best to state, as briefly as possible, the major aspects of my journey on this Earth which have brought me to the perspective and conclusion which I hold to.

I was raised with a large degree of Christian influence. Though my mother was not a follower of Jesus Christ and my father according to the flesh was certainly not, both of my maternal grandparents were strong believers in the Risen Lord. I was taken, very willingly, to church most weeks on the Lord’s Day. I was baptised in a Methodist church as a babe.

When I was in my teens I explored a variety of different spiritualities and at the age of twenty I had a major deterioration into madness. That madness lasted to one degree or another for some twenty years after. During this time I returned to the Church. I was on prescribed medication for virtually the entirety of twenty-five years and I still take a very small dose of major tranquillisers (also known as antipsychotics) due to their highly addictive nature. (I am slowly weaning off this remaining substance.)

Recently I began to come off my medication. I have done this without any support from any doctor or other “expert.” It has been extremely painful. At times I have thought that I would’ve committed suicide if I hadn’t previously made a firm vow to myself that I would not again attempt to take my own life. At times I have strongly considered going back to the psychiatric system and doing all they dictate. Yet despite those immense temptations I have endured and persisted. I am now free from all chemical medications except for the previously mentioned very low dose of major tranquilliser, which is far below the stated therapeutic dose.

I have now experienced profound and lasting healing, a knowledge of Jesus I had previously considered unattainable – not knowing about Him but knowing Him – and in my prayer and meditation have been able to reflect on my journey and draw conclusions, albeit imperfectly.

The Various Avenues Towards Healing

There are so many different routes to healing but I shall group them into three types.

“Faith” Healing – “Faith” healing includes a whole plethora of different versions. What they all have in common is the belief that there is some spiritual being or force which can effect healing. The majority of these are fakeries, even demonic in nature. That is one reason why “faith” healing gets such a negative press. The beings which these “faith” healers access, or the spiritual “forces” they harness, come not from the Living God but from a dark and dangerous entity in the spiritual realm. As mental illness is often caused or exacerbated by this dark side resorting to your tormenter for healing from your torment cannot be considered wise nor beneficial. Sometimes they may well seem to have done the trick, yet that is all the apparent healing is: a trick.

Examples of this demonic form of healing are spiritism and other arts of mediums (even when deceptively monikered “Christian”); the teachings and practices of the Word-Faith movement (the teachings of Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer et al); the calling upon the gods (such as Masonic rites, Satanic practices and witchcraft, and many others.

Yet there are true forms of faith healing. Exorcists in the cases of actual demonic possession or influence can be extremely beneficial. There are, however, very few true exorcists. Most a deluded individuals who do more harm than good. There are no trained exorcists within churches such as the charismatic, Pentecostal and other non-Apostolic churches. There may be some who are able to perform exorcisms, yet when dealing with extremely vulnerable persons an untrained “helper” can be extremely disturbing and even dangerous. The only church in which I have heard of good and holy approaches to mental illness and especially the matter of exorcisms is the Orthodox branch of the Church, although Romanist exorcists also have to undergo rigorous instruction.

Prayer itself can be extremely beneficial. Prayer is that wonderful thing: it doesn’t matter too much if the person praying has sufficient faith or if their words are accurate or even desired by the sufferer; it is God who answers the prayer and it is He who decides how to answer it. Yet even here there must be a word of warning. Too many – far too many – well-meaning but self-righteous “helpers” will offer to help but if you have done something, do something or believe something which they in their self-righteousness decree is “not true” then they have a horrible tendency to condemn the person they volunteered to “help” rather than first take a look at themselves. Anyone with first-hand experience with a mental disorder can tell you that such judgementalism is never helpful and can cause great distress.

(Note on Reiki and similar practices: I have very little knowledge of these. As that is the case I am not qualified to pass any sort of judgement on whether they are of God or the Adversary. If you want to look into them then please bear in mind the two categories of “faith healing” which I have just mentioned.)

Nature-based healing – Natural healing is a way of experiencing healing or, at the very least, a mitigation of symptoms, from the use of plants or plant-based remedies. A huge variety of plants exist which either can be found growing near to you or are often – though not always! – available easily through natural remedy retail outlets both physical and online.

There is a huge range of these plant-based remedies and they vary widely in their uses, their potencies and their effectiveness. Commonly known herbal preparations are valerian for help with sleep; camomile and tea (both green and black) for anxiety; St. John’s Wort for depression and other, not so freely available plants such as cannabis – which can treat a wide range of mental disorders if taken in low, carefully managed doses (see my post on medicinal cannabis.)

If you want to explore these plant-rememdies then do undertake research: look online and double-check with a trained person (by which I mean someone knowledgeable in plant-lore, not a psychiatric professional as many of those are very strongly taught that plants should not be used without their approval and then only after testing and doctoring by pharmaceutical companies.) Plants can be powerful and can also cause unpleasant side-effects if taken in an unwise manner.

There are other methods of using plant and mineral based remedies such as flower remedies (the most well-known being the Bach flower remedies) and homeopathy. Although I have met people and heard of a lot more who believe in the effectiveness of these I have had no first-hand experience and there is scant empirical evidence in regard to them either positive or negative.

Psychiatric and psychological healing – These are the official methods of healing. They are almost impossible to avoid for anyone, but especially when it comes to mental health matters. The teachings of schools, media and society at large almost force people to seek help from the “medical experts.” When it comes to mental health this forcefulness can even extend to legalised incarceration and forced medication, with violence permitted against the patient if he will not otherwise comply. Yet what does psychiatric and psychological healing comprise of? And is it effective?

Let’s deal with the psychological first. The psychological healing includes the various “talking therapies” such as counselling, psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioural therapy and similar methods of exploring one’s psyche. Many of these can indeed be very beneficial and, as a general rule I do not oppose them. The biggest issues come from the fundamental foundations of modern psychology and its profound limitations.

The foundation of almost all of modern psychology, including psychiatry, is that the mental part of a human being is entirely material. It is all a matter of synapses, chemical agents, electrical impulses and neural pathways. And, in addition, psychology sees the brain as the only place of importance in this materialistic mechanistic system. (this is despite the numerous studies which conclude that the heart consists of some eighty percent neural tissue.)

Due to this foundation psychology is severely limited to such a degree that it is dangerously flawed. The spiritual aspect is at best sidelined and at worst denigrated. The rest of the body is only considered in relation to the effect it has on the physical parts of the brain. And the deep connection which every person has with their surroundings and the whole of the natural order is usually ignored beyond the most immediately obvious.

If one is to seek help from a counsellor or other such individual or group it is imperative that what they believe, stand for, and their approaches to healing are examined and judged as to whether they are holistic or a result of tunnel-vision.

Psychiatry is even more limited and dangerous. All that was said about psychology applies here, yet on an industrial scale. Psychiatry is about the measured use of doctored chemicals in order to produce a “desired effect.” Antidepressants, sleeping pills, tranquillisers, antipsychotics etc. may appear to help people recover. This is merely an illusion. There has been no study which has shown that any of these medications produce a curative effect; all they can do is alleviate symptoms. Nothing more. In addition almost all of them, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, can be highly addictive, cause a shortening of lifespan, cause degeneration in other parts of the brain and body, and hinder the necessary functions of the heart, mind and soul in righting themselves from a “malfunction” or, in spiritual terms, a wrong turning in life.An Important Word of Warning!!!It has already been stated that psychiatric medications is highly addictive. I spent near on three whole months of almost constant desire to kill myself in order to break away from the addiction to antidepressants before any recovery became tangible. DO NOT SUDDENLY COME OFF THE MEDS! If you were a long-term alcoholic and you suddenly stopped drinking altogether you would have a seizure and die on the spot. The same extreme caution must be taken as regards psychiatric medications. In addition, the system currently in place does not facilitate a safe and supportive recovery from mental illness unless one takes the psychiatric medication. If there is a real – as opposed to an imagined, by you or by others – danger to continued survival in this world then I would, very reluctantly, suggest that medication may be the only currently available option.

Comfort When the World’s Against Us

[This was written in the early hours of this morning, before it was light.]

Comfort and Joy

I have had a hard night. A very brief time of sleep before fully awaking around 3 o’clock in the night. I knew sleep would be akin to a sleep of death for me so with my mind and heart thus troubled settling down to rest in slumber was not an option. And so I have been awake; drinking tea, coffee and smoking rollies. And praying.

I have prayed much the past night. Many prayers of desperation, many prayers of joy. And the musicians of Maranatha! Music have been a great blessing to me as I’ve praised the Lord whilst playing one of their albums.

I have just turned to the Bible as dawn is now approaching and, although I couldn’t find the Psalm I thought I wanted to read, I did read three and it was the final one which has really comforted me and inspired me and I wanted to share it with you. It is Psalm 13.

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13

A Comfort for Those With Mental Disorders

I wanted to share how this Psalm is an especial comfort to those of us with mental health disorders.

If we are going through a period of intense depression, anxiety or a psychotic episode it can seem like all are our enemies. Though some may try to understand and help we find that they cannot and their deeds and words only bring us more pain. So many people want to get us to listen to them and comply with their plans of action, making ready for us to be so desperate that we go grovelling to them for their offers of help.

Yet this Psalm comforts and strengthens us, as believers in the Lord Jesus with mental health issues, to take our comfort and our strength from him. Sometimes he does offer help through others, yes, but often that help exacts a heavy price in our loyalty to Christ. We must be firm, comforted and encouraged to stand for the Lord, in love, both in private and in public, even when our distresses are seemingly overwhelming.

In the words of Jesus:

In this world you shall have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!

John 16:33 (NIV)

People and Hiding

People and Hiding
Sometimes moments alone are needed.
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/man-solitude-tree-leaning-resting-1156543/

He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:5

“Don’t hide away!” “Get out and about more, it’s not good to be alone!”

How many times have you heard this? Should we, as people with mental health disorders, listen?

Well, I may not be saying this in the same way as many of my fellow Christians, but though I agree with them in mind and spirit, I would put it differently to some of them and say that no, we should not always listen.

Being Part of the Community

Yes! When people tell you that it is not good to be alone or that hiding yourself away is not a good idea, then by and large they are correct. For a man or a woman to be constantly secluded in their own little world is dangerous, not only for those with mental issues but for anyone. 

One can head off into undesirable thoughts and watch and do undesirable, even sinful, things. A person, in this day and age, may watch a lot of TV or spend a lot of time on social media – and bear in mind that watching TV and even talking with people on social media is still being alone in some deep sense even if communication is maintained.

I myself love music. I started listening to music as a child – The Wombles of Wimbledon Song and such like! – and in my teenage years took to music greatly. I would spend hours listening to music alone (and, in the early 90s it was rather de rigueur to smoke cannabis whilst doing this) until I started hearing messages in the music. And then? My first hospital admission came when I was 20 years old. No, hiding away is not good.

Being Part of the Body

Even as I grew to know Christ I would still hide away a lot. I would still spend hours alone in my room, listening to music – though for a time much of this music was Christian or semi-Christian – and I would stay away from church for many a week, sometimes for lengthy periods.

Being alone away from the Body is not good. Even the monastic life – which I do approve of in many respects – was one of community. (Personally I prefer the Celtic Church form where, I believe, monasteries were retreats and mission centres for evangelism and ministry carried out by the monks in the world rather than the monks being taken totally out of the world.) And even the ancient way of the hermits was often done not with a total retreat from society but as a purifying experience after long years of a monastic life and often were still attached to a monastery from which monks would often come to the hermit.

Yet a monastic life and especially a hermitic life is for very few and most of us are called to be part of the church in the context of still being in the world (the community around us). Note the following from Psalm 27:

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me.

Psalm 27:4-5.

Here we see the words “in the house of the Lord,” “inquire in His temple,” and, “He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.

I am reliably counselled that the safest interpretation of this verse in these times of the Church is that these terms I have emphasised in bold refer to the Body of Christ; His Church, and specifically for us, a local church.

To be a member of a local church and to engage in regular fellowship, especially but not limited to the Lord’s Day, is a vital part of being a follower of Jesus Christ. It is, after all, His ordained means of protecting and nurturing believers and a faithful minister of a church will do those things through his preaching and shepherding and through the mature saints who are also members. (Private prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures are also vital means.)

When we distance ourselves from the assembling of ourselves together we become vulnerable to the wiles of the devil, as I myself can painfully testify, and this assembling cannot be replaced by phone calls, emails or social media.

When we need time alone

Sometimes, though, time needs to be spent by oneself. Sometimes this may be unavoidable – I live in a flat by myself and oftentimes I am forced to be alone. In such times we need to remember that the Lord is still with us; He watches us when we are in company and when we are alone, when we are awake and when we are asleep: his care and love for us does not waver if we have given ourselves to Jesus.

Other times it may well be beneficial for us and others for us to retreat to a quiet place. This can be especially true for some of us with a history of mental health problems. 

If we are prone to anger we would do well to retreat if we feel our anger will spill out at another person unrighteously. “The wrath of man does not produce righteousness.” A few moments or even longer away from a potentially explosive situation is not wrong and is actually a very good policy.

At other times we may feel a panic attack coming on and a few moments alone in prayer and reflection may help calm us down. 

At other times we may find a social situation overwhelming and at such times retreat into a room by oneself or out into the garden may help. This may even be true of a church service, though if one is able it is good to remain in a church throughout a service. Sometimes I have found that staying in church for the whole service becomes so difficult for me that it is best to step outside for a little while before returning into the service.

If you find that this has helped you in the past try to do so without causing disturbance or offence to another if possible; I try to pick a convenient moment to hold off until, rather than missing a sermon or a Scripture reading and I now tend to sit towards the back and toward the end of a pew if I am able as this enables me to go outside briefly before returning. Sometimes that would not be possible and if I am invited to sit with a brother I will tend to do so rather than unnecessarily excuse myself from sitting next to him, yet I am still able to give myself permission to go outside if needed.

Returning to Being with People

Whatever the situation, unless it is one where you are being severely tempted by the surroundings and need to leave permanently it is best not to stay alone for too long before returning; just long enough but no more (especially true of a church service.) 

It is better to do this personal, temporary retreating than end up having an extremely distressing time which may cause you to be fearful of attending such events again. 

And, as time goes on you may find that such times of excusing yourself get less frequent and of shorter timespans. One important thing whatever necessitates your retreating to be alone is to remember the Apostle Paul’s words to “pray without ceasing.” When retreating to be by yourself do not get lost in your own flights of fancies or worryings but rather pray quietly to the Lord, even silently if that is most convenient such as if you are in a public place such as a front porch or outside the church. That can be difficult sometimes, I know, but try to build that practice of prayer into your everyday life in every place and time.

To conclude

In most things in life it is good to have balance. To be constantly or predominantly alone can be harmful and to be constantly seeking to be with people can be harmful, especially if we end up seeking out the company of ungodly people in pubs and in clubs, for example.

As people who have suffered much from mental disorders we can find it hard to be wise and discerning in these matters, but most of the time seeking a healthy balance is a good way forward.